Monday, November 28, 2011

Cayce, Osteopathy, General and Specific Treatments

General and Specific Treatment Formats
    In attempting to explain the meaning of Cayce's statement about osteopathic and neuropathic "coordination WITH drainage," we have considered the theoretical aspects of these forms of regulation as well as specific clinical techniques.  However, to help make this information more practical in its application it is necessary to utilize a format which recognizes general and specific treatments.
    In certain respects, the distinction between general and specific treatments is merely an extension of the concepts of anatomical correction and physiological regulation into a clinical setting.  The practitioner provides specific treatments for specific structural defects.  For regulatory purposes, a general treatment may be useful to put the body through it paces and thereby increase coordination and improve eliminations.
    In making therapeutic recommendations, Edgar Cayce often made the distinction between general and specific treatments. In the following excerpt, he recommended a general osteopathic treatment for relaxation:
    Once a week, or once in ten days would be preferable, have an osteopathic relaxation.  This does not mean that there are to be corrections attempted.... This should be a treatment not so much for adjustment as for a thorough, thorough relaxing, each and every segment, each and every muscular force of the body receiving special attention.  Use the limbs or the structural portions as leverage to make muscular reaction.  (3095-1)
    Often, Edgar Cayce would recommend both specific and general treatments for the same person.  Sometimes these two types of treatment would be alternated:
    With the corrective forces as will be made through those of adjustments OSTEOPATHICALLY given, and the massage following same - two of the general treatments to one of the [specific] adjustment treatments should be given.  These should be given at least every week, two general, one corrective ...  (53-1)
    We would take, now, about twice each week, the osteopathic manipulations, - a general manipulation at one treatment and a specific adjustment at the next, as has been indicated. (1844-2)
    In other instances, Cayce would recommend that general and specific treatments be combined in the same session:
    After the condition is lessened, begin with deep manipulation, osteopathically given - a general treatment every other day, and the specific treatment in the region of the lower cervical, the upper dorsal and the sacral and lumbar.  These would be given together (the general and the specific treatment), that the whole system may be aroused to better elimination and better relaxation.  (4999-1)
    We would have at least two treatments osteopathically each week, one of these being an adjustment treatment followed with a general manipulation - the other rather the massage over the whole system, keeping the coordination of nerve impulses from the ganglia in this area of the cerebrospinal with the cerebrospinal ganglia in the locomotory areas and the sympathetic areas.  (3722-1)
    The osteopaths of Cayce's era were also well aware of the distinction between general and specific treatments.  Some practitioners focused mainly on specific treatment following A. T. Still's admonition of "Find it, fix it and leave it alone" (in Brantingham, 1986).  Other early osteopaths were inclined to use general treatments as a regular part of their practice (e.g., Goetz, 1909; Riggs, 1901; Barber, 1898; Murray, 1925).
    "A General Treatment is given by a great many Osteopaths in connection with the specific treatment needed for the ailment for which the patient is being treatment.  General treatment is an advantage in a number of cases.  It is given for nerve troubles and for the general circulation."  (Murray, 1925, p. 61)
    "In giving a general treatment, try to do the work in twenty minutes.  When you begin to practice Osteopathy it will take thirty minutes or longer to give the general treatment, but after you have practiced for a while you will feel that you are wasting time if you do not give it in twenty minutes or less.  In using the shorter time you will do the work very effectively....
    In nervous troubles and in many constitutional diseases Osteopaths have discovered that they get better results when they give the general treatment.  This helps the circulation and makes a tired patient feel like new; and the treatment, after all, when there are no specific lesions to remove, is but little more than deep massage, in which nearly all the muscles of the body are manipulated.
     One may give this treatment, in such a manner that many patients come to look upon it as a luxury.  And many will take it when they are only slightly indisposed.  Some business men take the treatment as a means of relaxation. Many others take it when they are simply tired."  (Murray, 1925, pp. 18-20)
    Here is an example of a general osteopathic treatment as described in the Text-Book of Osteopathy (American College of Mechano-Therapy, 1910).

    "Uses - A general treatment is indicated for the correction of nerve troubles and general circulation.
    Patient reclines on table, lying on the side.  Relax the tissues of the back by the following methods:
  1. Stand in front of patient and grasp uppermost arm.  Relax the tissues about the shoulders and down to the spine and back with the other hand.  Hold the arm at the elbow, and using the joint as a lever, work the arm back and forth.  By this means the spine is manipulated and any deviation corrected.
  2. With patient in same position, place one hand beneath the neck and grasp the occiput.  Rest the other side of the patient's head against your breast, and apply traction to the tack and upper dorsal region.
  3. Place one elbow on the hip and the other on the shoulder. Stretch the spine by extending the arms and stretching the hips away from the shoulder.
  4. Manipulate the shoulder.  Pull up the scapula with one hand, while with the other press the shoulder.
  5. Place one hand under patient's scapula and grasp the shoulder with the other hand.  Then rotate the shoulder.
  6. Manipulate the limbs by seizing the limb in both hands, relaxing all tissues with a rotary movement of the hand.
  7. Manipulate the spine by pulling it toward you, while patient is lying on his side with knees flexed and braced against you.
  8. Turn patient on other side and repeat above treatment.
  9. Place patient face downward, with toes extended and arms hanging down over the sides of the table.  Describe a circular movement with the palms of the hands, at the same time apply pressure, to relax all contracted tissues of the back.  Pull the muscles away from the spine with the fingers.
  10. With the patient lying in a prone position, stand at one side of the table and grasp the hip of patient on further side in front.  Apply pressure up and down the spine with the heel of the other hand, while pulling the hip upward.  Treat both sides.
  11. Patient in same position.  Operator stands at head of the table.  Apply considerable pressure on each side of the spine with the thumbs.
  12. Raise the limbs in one arm and rotate them, while applying considerable pressure at the lower part of the abdomen with the other hand.
  13. Apply pressure to lower part of spine while one limb is raised.  Raise the other limb and repeat the pressure." (American College of Mechano-Therapy, 1910, pp. 12-15)
    The significance of the general treatment is that it provides a simple format for regulatory techniques such as coordination and drainages.  By its very nature, a general treatment will improve circulation which is a prerequisite for drainages.  Because the general treatment tends to stimulate all the nerve centers, it also has a coordinating effect that is lacking if only a specific adjustment is made.
    Yet, the osteopathic literature contains certain reservations against general treatment.  The primary concern is that general treatment may lapse "into routinism, to be followed by carelessness or slipshod methods"  (McConnell, 1932, in Jordan, 1994, p. 58).  However, like the Cayce readings, McConnell does see a valid role for general adjustment when it is precisely and intelligently performed in conjunction with specific corrective adjustment.
    "Unquestionably, as stated, there is merit in various soft tissue general manipulations.  They do affect circulation and nerve impulses.  They help to release abnormal tensions and to tone flabby musculature.  No doubt many beginning lesions are normalized and others are more or less modified as to severity.  But (and this is an extremely important "but") general manipulations will not, can not, adjust the serious deep-seated lesions.  Only skilled operative work can do this.  The very nature of the pathologic condition demands specificity in order to normalize it....
    Integration: What may be termed therapeutic integration of structure is essential, because each part of the structure is requisite to the unified action of the organism [coordination].  This means that not only should the local solution of structure be rectified [specific adjustment], but also that all abnormal correlative mechanisms should be carefully adjusted.   Integration [coordination] implies the necessity of general treatment, but not in the sense of general or routine manipulation....
    Diagnosis of the primary physical abnormal condition is of first consideration.  But unless one subsequently elicits the full value of the integrative [coordinating] trend of the organism, many pathological factors will be overlooked....
    Too much time, relatively, may be given to the local physiochemical derangement.  Ignoring the coordinative function and integrative trend of nerve impulse and chemical activity may defeat the very purpose of a localized therapy. Hence therapeutic specificity ofttimes depends upon adjustments of more than one region.  Function is no more confined to a local influence than is structure to a local requirement.  Both are adapted to body wholeness." (McConnell, 1932, in Jordan, 1994, pp. 58-59)
    Thus it is the careful integration of specific adjustment and general coordinating/integrating treatment that is the highest achievement of the osteopathic profession.

Edgar Cayce on Osteopathy


By Theodore Jordan, D.O. [NOTE: Dr.  Jordan, a practicing osteopath in Columbus, Ohio, and an A.R.E. member, has devoted several years to researching early osteopathic literature, the better to understand the Edgar Cayce readings that recommended manipulation and its role in health care.  The following article was published in Venture Inward, July/August 1994, Volume 10, No. 4.]
    Osteopathic treatment is of the most frequently recommended therapeutic measures suggested in the Cayce readings.  Chiropractic adjustments are recommended only occasionally.  This has caused much confusion for contemporary physician practitioners because osteopathic and chiropractic manipulative treatments seem so similar today.
    A look at the development of osteopathy and how it was originally practiced shows how it differed from chiropractic.  More important, osteopathy in philosophy and practice more closely reflected the healing philosophies of the Edgar Cayce readings.
    Osteopathy was developed by a Midwest physician, Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917).  When three of his children died of meningitis despite the best available medical treatments, he began to question the exceedingly harsh and seemingly useless practices of his day.  This led him to search for a better understanding of health and disease.
    Dr. Still dissected many human corpses, thus gaining a knowledge of anatomy that was legendary.
    " A thousand experiments were made with bones until I became quite familiar with the bony structure.  I might have advanced sooner in osteopathy had not our Civil War interfered with the progress of my studies."
    Nine years after the war ended, in 1874, Dr. Still advanced his concept of osteopathy.  He believed that the human body, being a work of God, was perfect and inherently had all the properties needed to maintain a state of health.  Disease only existed if there was some obstruction to health such as impaired circulation of blood, lymph, or nerve forces.  The osteopath need only remove this obstruction, he reasoned, and the body would then naturally heal itself.
    In his autobiography, Still traced his confidence in manipulation as a healing therapy to an incident when he was 10 years old.  Suffering from a headache, he lay on the ground with his head resting on a blanket that lay over a rope tied between two trees about eight to ten inches above the ground.  "Thus I lay stretched on my back, with my neck across the rope.' He fell asleep and woke up feeling fine.  "I followed that treatment for 20 years before the wedge of reason reached my brain, and I could see that I had suspended the action of the great occipital nerves, and given harmony to the flow of the arterial blood to and through the veins, and ease was the effect." He came to believe that "the artery is the father of the rivers of life, health, and ease, and its muddy or impure water is first in all disease."
    He viewed the body allegorically as a "finely tuned engine" and the osteopath as a mechanic whose job was to correct any parts of the engine that were out of order.
    Dr. Still taught that when a bone or vertebra is slightly out of position there is also a strain on the surrounding tissues including the ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic vessels.  This strain causes a decrease in the local circulation of fluids and alteration of the nervous impulses.  Disease results when tissues and organs:
  • Do not receive sufficient arterial blood supply to provide them with oxygen and nutrients
  • Do not have properly balanced nervous supply to regulate and coordinate their function with the rest of the body, and/or
  • Do not have adequate drainage through the veins and lymphatics to carry away their wastes.
    The osteopath's duty was to help elicit the body's natural healing forces by removing any obstruction to health.  This most often meant correcting the bony misalignment so that all the surrounding tissues and nerves could work unimpeded.
    "Remove all obstructions, and when it is intelligently done, nature will kindly do the rest," Dr. Still wrote.  He also often said that anyone can find disease, but an osteopath's job is to find health.
    Many parts of the Edgar Cayce readings and their recommendations parallel the osteopathic philosophy of health.  A book that outlines the similarities between these two systems is Osteopathy: Comparative Concepts - A. T. Still and Edgar Cayce, written by J. Gail Cayce.
    The Cayce readings contain many very complimentary comments about osteopathy of that day, such as: "There is no form of physical mechanotherapy so near in accord with nature's measures as correctly given osteopathic adjustments." (reading 1158-31) Also, "... and nature is better even than the osteopath - though the osteopath is the closest to the natural means." (1497-4) "Seek out, then, an instrument of the curative forces known as the osteopath, that is capable - through the proper manipulations, using the structural portions of the body as leverage - of stimulating the secretions through the various activities of glands and centers and ganglia along the system to bring about a coordination of the activities of the physical forces within the system itself." (531-2)
    Cayce seldom recommended chiropractic treatments and even on occasion warned against them.  What was the major difference that Cayce saw between the two schools of practice at that time which influenced him to suggest osteopathic much more often than chiropractic treatments?  It seems that the primary difference between osteopaths and chiropractors of that day was their method of adjusting the body.  Before these differences can be explained, a clarification of terminology is essential.
    A bone out of proper alignment is termed a lesion, or a subluxation, or somatic dysfunction.  There are many ways to correct these misalignments; but they fall into two therapeutic categories, the direct and the indirect techniques.
    Most direct techniques are associated with the popping or snapping of joints, usually the vertebrae of the spine.  In many direct techniques, the operator applies a thrust that is directed to force a displaced bone back into position.  If a single vertebra is displaced so that it is rotated and facing slightly to the right, the thrusting technique forces that vertebra to the left with the intent of leaving it centered in the midline where it should be.  This is achieved, once the patient is positioned, by a quick thrust which causes the joint spaces to open, producing an audible pop.  This mechanism is the same as when people crack their knuckles.  The sound is produced as two joint surfaces are quickly pulled apart, creating a small vacuum.  The same effect is achieved by pulling a small suction cup from a smooth surface.  This does not directly damage a joint, and often frees any restriction.  Injury to the surrounding ligaments can occur only if the operator puts too much force into the motion, thereby stretching the surrounding ligaments beyond their physiologic range.
    Depending on the operator's intent and skill, this thrust can be very specific and only adjust one segment.  With a slightly different approach, many joint spaces may be opened quickly, producing a crunch sound instead of a single pop.  It appears that early chiropractic adjustment was administered in this way - with quick thrusts to correct any vertebrae that might be out of place.  Over the years many variations on this basic technique have been developed.  Some use a great deal of force, while others are quite delicate and specific.
    Dr. Still and the early osteopaths who trained under him seem to have rarely used these direct techniques. Instead they used much gentler, indirect techniques.  Their method of correction involved gentle exaggerations of the position of the dysfunction until the tensions in the ligaments were felt to balance.  Then the job was to wait, feel for the body itself to correct the dysfunction, and to assist gently the body's natural corrective movement until the bone returns to normal, or to a more normally balanced position.  For example, in the case of a vertebra facing slightly to the right, instead of thrusting it to force it left, the osteopath would gently exaggerate its position; turning it even more to the right until a balance was felt, then allowing the body's intrinsic forces to take over and return the vertebra to its proper position.  The main focus of the operator is on the tension of the surrounding ligaments and muscles.  The corrective action comes not from the physician, but from the body's natural healing forces.
    Ample evidence of their preference for indirect techniques is found in the writings of some of the early osteopaths.  Indeed, they even warned against the harsher direct techniques.
    "I don't think I ever saw the 'Old Doctor' (A. T. Still) snap a joint with any noticeable sound, "writes M. L. Bush, D.O., who boarded with the Still family while a student at the first osteopathic school.  "His technique was practically painless to the patient.  I have often heard him say, ‘When you hurt a patient in treatment, you don't deserve to be called an osteopath."'
    G. V. Webster, D.O. summarized their philosophy when he wrote: "Living things prefer persuasion to force, consideration to trauma, intelligence to ill-expended force.  It is better to work with the tissues than at them.  Nature has her rewards and penalties for the manner in which lesions are treated. Co-operate with nature."
    Edgar Cayce echoed this in reading 1158-24: "Then the science of osteopathy is not merely the punching in of a certain segment or the cracking of the bones, but it is the keeping of a balance by the touch - between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal system!" and "With the adjustments made in this way and manner, we will find not only helpful influences but healing and an aid to any condition that may exist in the body...... Also, "A long series of such (osteopathic adjustments), just pulling or cracking here or there, has nothing to do with healing forces!  They have to be scientifically or correctly administered for the individual or particular disturbances, just as we have indicated here."
    Reading 304-2 further explains this difference: "Osteopathic treatment is needed, not chiropractic. If we had wanted this we would have given it. The body does not need adjustment, what it needs is relaxation of the muscular forces .... Chiropractic treatment is adjustment, not relaxation of the muscular forces."
    Not every dysfunction will fully correct on the first treatment but the osteopath's job was to acknowledge the body's wisdom and allow the body to correct itself at its own pace. As C. P. McConnell, D.O. wrote, "Always make it a point when working upon dislocated vertebrae in any region that just as soon as one has obtained a slight movement in the lesion do not attempt to correct it any more for the time being. A slight movement toward the right direction may be all that is necessary to relieve the ill effects of the lesion. In fact it might be impossible to get the lesion anatomically correct......
    Likewise, reading 2519-3 states: "...but to act in the manner as will allow nature itself - for, this - this would be well for all physicians of every character to remember: That they may only aid nature to; adjust itself. You can't force nature to do anything! Only aid it in adjusting itself to meet conditions."
    Along with these indirect techniques, osteopaths also used a number of different approaches to correction.  Some osteopaths preferred direct techniques to correct vertebral misalignment, but even these techniques were performed gently and without much popping or cracking of bony joints.  Edythe Ashmore, D.O., in a 1915 osteopathic text, wrote this about treating the neck: "The habit of putting a cervical joint upon tension and 'popping' it is one to be condemned in no uncertain language .... Cervical treatment should be mastered by slow processes."
    Even before A. T. Still's death in 1917, it appears that the direct, thrusting techniques were slowly becoming more popular with osteopaths.  In the 1920s, Still's influence waned as these techniques became, and remained, quite popular among the younger osteopaths.  Some osteopaths remained true to the original methods, however, and criticized this new approach.  Among them was J. B. McKee, D.O., who in 1979 warned that hearing a pop was no indication of correction.
    "... the main danger [is the] confusion resulting from confounding the sound of articular separation with the correction of the existing lesion," wrote McKee.  "Even the veriest layman knows that he can pop his knuckle without any way changing the relation of the joint surfaces and it would be well perhaps if osteopaths would give the thought more consideration than seems to obtain at present."
    These direct, thrusting techniques have remained the most popular mode of treatment among the majority of chiropractors.  Among osteopaths, these techniques became increasingly popular until they were apparently the primary method of manipulation taught in osteopathic schools from the 1930s through the 1960s.  Some reasons, I believe, are fairly obvious.  The older osteopathic techniques require a highly developed sense of touch, focused concentration, and are slower to perform and very difficult to teach correctly.  The direct, thrusting techniques on the other hand, are quick, efficient, and can be taught relatively easily to large classes of students.
    Both the chiropractic and osteopathic professions have changed.  Over the last century, osteopaths have fought for and have won full licensure in all 50 states and are able to prescribe medications as well as to perform surgery.  Today doctors of osteopathy are found practicing in all specialties of medicine.  Manipulation is still taught in every osteopathic school and many osteopaths continue to utilize these skills in their practices.
    Today, however, not all osteopaths continue to use their manipulative skills on their patients.  Nonetheless, there remains a strong core of osteopaths who maintain the highest proficiency in manipulative medicine.  Although many expertly utilize the direct, thrusting techniques, the older styles of manipulation never completely disappeared.  Today an increasing number of osteopaths are interested in learning, developing, and thus continuing this older, gentler style of manipulation, especially with the current renewed interest in natural medicine and the emphasis on assisting with the body's own power for healing.  Some chiropractors are also now using more of the gentler techniques and methods of correction.
    My explanation of all these techniques has been necessarily oversimplified.  To perform any of these techniques requires a detailed knowledge of anatomy, palpatory and diagnostic skills, knowledge of indications and contraindications in the treatment of patients, and extensive formal instruction for safe, correct, and successful treatment.  Most persons receiving manipulation therapy today are being treated with direct, thrusting techniques.  When done intelligently and properly, these treatments are certainly beneficial, as many can attest.
    The purpose of this article has been to explain why the Cayce readings made such a distinction between osteopathic and chiropractic treatments, to explain some therapeutic differences within these disciplines, and to suggest that from the readings, it may be realized that these gentler, indirect methods of manipulation first used by early osteopaths, and still in use today, are more in tune with the body's natural healing forces, and thus kindred in philosophy with health care as prescribed by Edgar Cayce.  As reading 1158-24 put it:
    "Then, the science of osteopathy is not merely the punching in a certain segment or the cracking of the bones, but it is the keeping of a balance - by the touch - between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal system!  That is the real osteopathy!"  
    The founder of osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, was certainly an extraordinary individual, having started the first osteopathic college at the age of 64, after which he wrote four books.
    In addition to his indefatigable stamina he was considered to have special powers of clairvoyance by those who knew him.  He used this clairvoyant ability on occasion, as Edgar Cayce had, accurately diagnosing medical conditions of people in distant locations.  He told one pupil, Dr. Ellen Ligon, that he could see a patient's aura and could tell from its appearance whether the patient was sick or well.
    During one period of his life, Dr. Still regularly met with a local spiritualist group, and with a medium named Mrs. Allred, who supposedly channeled an Indian spirit named "Metah." Dr. Charles Teall wrote that "He was psychic to a degree and held communion with unseen powers who helped him over the rough road he was compelled to travel ."
    In his Autobiography of A. T. Still, he stated, 'I was good at seeing visions all of my life.' Although these particular talents of Dr. Still were never emphasized, they provide a more profound understanding of the unique talents and insights of the founder of osteopathy.  

Edgar Cayce and Castor Oil


[NOTE: The following article is composed of excerpts from a research paper which presents a study of the use of castor oil packs as suggested in the Edgar Cayce readings, and as observed in the practice of general medicine.  Dr. McGarey found the readings to represent the largest body of information having to do with the use of castor oil packs as therapy.
    His title comes from an exhaustive search into medical literature which produced a book published in 1918 by Douglas W. Montgomery, M.D. Dr. Montgomery wrote that castor oil was extracted from the seed of the Ricinus communes, sometimes known as the Palma Christi (the palm of Christ) because of its palmate leaf structure.
    The first portion of the report includes a survey of the use of castor oil and some of its history - in industry, folk medicine, and as therapy.  In this section also Dr. McGarey deals with physiology, emotions, functions and eliminations.  A careful accounting is given of various kinds of incoordination - in the etiology of body sickness, and as pertaining to attitudes and emotions.
    The second portion of the report shows the use of castor oil packs today, case histories, failures and successes, and physiological conclusions.]

The Purpose of Castor Oil Research
(Excerpt from Part II)     Castor oil packs and their use on the human body occupy the central position of our study.  Research has indicated that their use extends back in time to ancient Egypt, where castor oil was used therapeutically.  In the first section of the report we related these packs primarily with parapsychology by studying their use by Edgar Cayce - a man who could lie down and voluntarily enter a state of mind and body wherein his conscious mind was apparently not involved with what he was saying.
    Edgar Cayce indicated that his entire autonomic nervous system was vitally active during this state, and that the unconscious mind was that portion which was seeking out and reporting the information found.  Often this information came from the unconscious mind of the other person involved - and this would seem to direct us to the haunting thought that we know already what is wrong with our bodies.  We just can't reach down into that unconscious mind, (or is it the autonomic nervous system?) and obtain the knowledge that we would like to have.
    Thus the seeking into the nervous system of man became proper here, since, in bringing together all portions of this study, the inferences in the Cayce readings cannot be ignored.  And these state that castor oil packs seemingly have a relationship with the nervous system as well as most of the other systems of the body in their role of helping bring the body back to health.
    This brings us, then, to the study of their use in the general practice of medicine, and the analysis, for whatever value may proceed from it, of eighty-one cases in my practice where individuals who had varying conditions of illness were treated through the use of these packs.
    These eighty-one cases are a random selection and represent only a small fraction of the instances where we have used castor oil packs as the only, or as a coordinate, therapy for one condition or another of illness.  Some of the cases where I have been most impressed by the therapeutic efficiency of this tool are not included.  A continuing effort is being made, however, to collect more data which hopefully will provide statistically significant information, which is not to be found in this preliminary report.
    My object in presenting these cases in conjunction with the other information that has been presented, is perhaps five-fold in its scope.  It is not, certainly, a conventional research paper, nor is it a conventional research project.  Many factors which are necessary for good, scientific research are not to be found here for a variety of reasons, not necessary to be explained.  There are to be found here, however, information which is significant, and case histories which are relevant to the purposes and objectives underlying this presentation.
    My objectives, then, are as follows: 1) To stimulate interest in this therapeutic regime; 2) To show the exceptionally wide latitude of use that is possible with the castor oil packs; 3) To present and coordinate evidence that there is actual beneficial response in the human body to the application of these pack; 4) To discuss theoretical considerations relative to the action of the packs on the body; and 5) To begin to explore the validity of a unique understanding of physiological functioning of the human body, which is found in the Edgar Cayce readings.
Castor Oil Packs
Instructions for use:
    Prepare first a soft flannel cloth which is two or three thicknesses when folded and which measures about eight inches in width and ten to twelve inches in length after it is folded.  This is the size needed for abdominal application - other areas may need a different size pack, as would seem to be applicable.  Pour some castor oil into a pan and soak the cloth in the oil.  Then wring it out so that the cloth is wet but not drippy with the castor oil.  Then apply the cloth to the area which needs treatment.
    Protection should be made against soiling the bed clothing by putting a plastic sheet underneath the body.  Then a plastic covering should be applied over the soaked flannel cloth.  On top of that, place a heating pad and turn it up to "medium" to begin with - then to "high" if the body tolerates it.  Then perhaps it will help if you wrap a towel around the entire area.  The pack should remain in place between one and one and a half hours.  You will be instructed regarding the frequency of use.
    The skin can be cleansed afterwards if desired by using water which is prepared as follows: to a quart of water, add two teaspoons baking soda.  Use this to cleanse the abdomen.  Keep the flannel pack in a pan for future use.  It need not be discarded after one application.
Examples of Case Histories from Dr. McGarey's files
    Case No. 8.  A 33 year old male accountant, presented himself with the chief complaint of severe constipation for one month associated with generalized abdominal distention.  He gave a history of having had some degree of chronic constipation since childhood, with distention.  During the month just past, he noted that laxatives only caused cramping, but gave him no real relief.  Examination showed all findings to be within normal limits except for abdominal tenderness, most marked over both lower quadrants.  There was not any tenderness noted over the gall bladder area, or over the pancreas. He had been treated in the past with contact evacuants, peristaltic stimulants, and cholagogue-pancreatic enzyme mixture.  The diagnosis used here is constipation.  The history is suspicious of pancreatic or liver-gall bladder malfunction.  Full workup with x-ray and laboratory tests were not performed.
    Treatment consisted only of castor oil packs in association with a low-fat diet.  The patient cooperated well in applying the packs three days in a row each week, for one hour each time, for a total of seven weeks.  Results were very satisfactory.  The bowel movements became regular, once daily.  The cramps disappeared, and the abdominal pain ceased.  Examination showed a normal abdomen with no tenderness elicited.
    Response rated as excellent to single therapy.
    Case No. 13. 75 years.  This elderly widow was a resident of a rest home, and was seen because of a furuncle which had developed in the left axilla.  She complained of much pain associated with the furuncle, which was not draining.  She had been hospitalized many times, once within the year earlier for surgical drainage of a furuncle in the right axilla.  General health was poor and she had been an arthritic for many years.  Examination of the local area showed much rubor and swelling in the tissues of the furuncle and surrounding it.  Patient complained bitterly of the pain and was unable to move arm without much difficulty.  No fluctuation could be found at that point.  Diagnosis was, of course, furuncle of the left axilla.
    No treatment was used with the exception of the castor oil packs which were used twice daily for 1 1/2 hours for a period of 17 days.  The tenderness and pain subsided within the next 2-3 days, and then the furuncle gradually cleared until it disappeared completely.  There was not evidence of fluctuation having occurred at any time although the degree of tissue inflammation may have masked some of the signs which might otherwise have been observed.  Thus there was no external drainage of material from this lesion at any time.
    Response was rated as excellent to single therapy.  
    Case No. 14.  This was an 11 Year old boy who liked to play baseball. He was struck by a batted ball over the right maxilla two weeks before being seen first in my office.  The lump which developed in that area persisted and was growing gradually larger.  Examination revealed an 8 mm. fibrous tumor of the subcutaneous tissue overlying the right maxillary prominence, which was tender to palpation.  X-rays were negative for fracture.  Diagnosis was fibrohematoma of the subcutaneous tissues.
    Treatment suggested was use of a castor oil pack to that area for 45 minutes daily, to be used for a period of two weeks.  The family cooperated very well, and reported that the tenderness subsided in the first few days, and the size of the nodule gradually became less.  When he was examined in two weeks, the tumor was difficult to find because of its size, which was then perhaps two mm. in diameter, and the consistency was softer.  Treatment was stopped, and the nodule then disappeared over a period of time.
    Response was rated as excellent to single therapy.  
    Case No. 15.  A 37 year old mate, married grocer, developed a urinary infection three days before being seen in our office on 7/1/65.  Symptoms were low back pain and dysuria.  His past history revealed two episodes of renal calculus, in 1959 and again in 1963, and occasional upper respiratory infections.  Examination showed tenderness over both costovertebral angles, and urinalysis performed on that date showed albumen and the centrifuged specimen to be loaded with white blood cells.  The patient was given a sulfa-azo dye medication and the infection cleared within a week, when the medication was stopped.  Infection recurred two days later, but ten days treatment did not now do the job, and the patient was seen on 7/19/65 with original presenting symptoms.  Diagnosis was cystitis and pyelo-nephritis.
    Treatment with castor oil packs was begun on 7/19/65 while continuing the other therapy.  They were used over the renal areas of the low back all night long for five days.  The aching subsided after the first night, incurred briefly on the third day and then disappeared again.  Examination on the fifth day showed absence of tenderness over the left C.V.A., and only minimal tenderness over the right.  The medication was cut to half dosage, the packs were continued for another 10 days after that and the patient continued to complete clearing of signs, symptoms and laboratory evidence of infection.
    Response was rated as excellent to combined therapy.  
    Case No. 16.  A 51 year old housewife, was in the midst of marital difficulties which had progressed to divorce proceedings when she was seen in our office with specific complaints of depression, nervousness, episodes of numbness, anorexia, nausea, abdominal cramps and distention, associated with much mucus in her stools which were loose in character.  These had all existed over a period of about two months, although she gave the history of having had symptoms of colitis over the past five year period.  Her physical examination showed a normal blood pressure of 100/70, and local findings of generalized abdominal tenderness, most marked in the epigastrium.  There was hyperperistalsis present.  Diagnosis for this survey purpose was mucous colitis. (It is evident that there was a great deal of stress present here and tension, depression, etc., but this was not evaluated as was the colitis, so was not used as a diagnosis)
    Treatment was already being used: a colitis diet and two types of ataraxics plus an anti-spasmodic for smooth muscles.  These were continued, and castor oil packs were added to the regime, being used three times a week for 1/2 hours daily over a period of four weeks.  During this period of time, the cramps subsided, mucus no longer appeared in her stools and the bowel movements became more normal.  Peristalsis decreased.  The packs were discontinued, and sometime later most of the symptoms recurred.
    Response was rated as good to combined therapy.  
    Case No. 18. 11 year old schoolboy.  The boy experienced onset of abdominal pain with  low grade fever and vomiting while visiting relatives in California.  The physician consulted stated that he had symptoms of appendicitis, gave him an injection of penicillin and advised the parents to go home immediately to seek further care.  He was brought to my office the next day with the history that he had continued to have nausea, anorexia and abdominal pain.  His temperature at that point was 98.6 degrees, and examination revealed tenderness in the right lower quadrant with positive rebound tenderness.  There was no rigidity, no masses palpable and peristalsis was present.  Diagnosis was acute appendicitis.
    The mother did not want surgery unless necessary.  Since a critical point requiring surgical intervention had not arrived, I elected to watch and wait, instituting the use of castor oil packs again without the use of the heating pad.  The patient was put at bedrest, given only ice chips by mouth, and, with the pack on continuously, he remained comfortable the remainder of that day, He spent a good night, feeling much better in the morning.  At that point, his nausea disappeared.  On examination, his tenderness was only minimal, and the rebound phenomenon was gone. He was given a full liquid diet, bed test was continued, and the packs were kept on continuously.  On the second morning of this therapy, patient was completely asymptomatic.  The packs were used two to four hours that day and a light diet was prescribed.  Although there were no symptoms and the boy was impatient to be completely active, he was given the packs twice on the third day for one hour each.  At that point, his diet was normal and he resumed full activity with no further therapy.
    Response was rated as excellent to single therapy.  
    Case No. 30.  This was a 40 year old married secretary, who was seen with common warts on her right index ringer which had been present for several months.  The largest was 8 mm. in diameter.
    Diagnosis was verruca vulgaris, right index finger.
    These were treated by applying a band-aid to the warts on the finger, the bandage portion being first soaked in castor oil.  This was worn continuously, being changed once or twice a day for a period of two months.  At the end of that period of time, the warts had completely disappeared.
    Response was rated as excellent to single therapy.  
    Case No. 36. 42 year old housewife, registered nurse.  This is perhaps the most unusual case in the series, and I refer to it fondly as "The case of the curly hair".  The reason for this will become obvious.  This very interesting woman presented herself with the request that I check her blood pressure.  She stated she had hypertension and she believed it was due to taking a contraceptive medication for a period of time and too much tension to which she had been subjected.  It had been discovered first to be elevated less than six months before her first visit to our office.  Her chronological story began, however, some sixteen months, rather than six, before this first visit.  She started taking, at that point, contraceptive pills, which she continued for a total of thirteen months.  After being on the medication two months, a series of very traumatic events began within the structure of her family that had to do with her daughter and her boyfriend, culminating (in their effect) in July of the following year, some seven months later.  Meanwhile, at four months on the medication she developed noticeably increased nervousness.  At five months she experienced a 21-hour uterine hemorrhage that was difficult to stop.  At the six-month period, she noted cramps in both legs.  At the nine-month mark, when her personal tension was also at its height, she developed swelling of the left calf and the cramps in her legs became at times excruciating.
    Also, when she washed her hair, she noted that for the first time in her life she could not make the hair develop suds.  She changed shampoos three times to no effect, and the beauty parlor met with the same results - no sudsing.  At this point it was noted that her blood pressure was elevated. Her legs continued to bother her severely, and the veins in her legs were distended until, after thirteen months on the medication, she stopped it of her own accord. Her gynecologist did not believe that the medication was causing her trouble, according to her account.  When she stopped the medication, her veins became normal and the cramps in her legs stopped bothering her blood pressure remained elevated, however, she remained tense, and her hair retained the remarkable non-sudsing quality; the texture of her hair was poorer and it would not curl as well as it did before all this started.  She then saw an internist who examined her thoroughly and could find nothing wrong with her except the elevated blood pressure which he did not think was caused by tension or by the medication.  It was within a few weeks after this that she came to our office.  Examination revealed a blood pressure of 180/110 to 160/98, with no other abnormal findings.
    She did not tell me about the hair until later on, so there were no notations made about this.  She was treated for three months with conventional medication for hypertension, and the blood pressure remained constant, no responding.  Then, about six months after she had stopped her medication, she complained of palpitation and tenseness again, and I was ready to begin use of the packs.  Her diagnosis recorded for purposes of this study were hypertension and oral contraceptive reaction.
    Therapy was continued with the hypertensive medication.  The only other therapy advised was abdominal castor oil packs, applied three consecutive nights of each week for three weeks in a row, duration 1 1/2 hours each treatment.  The third pack each week was to be followed by oral ingestion of one ounce of olive oil.  The patient followed the instructions, and reported when she returned in three weeks that after one week's treatment with the packs her hair sudsed like it hadn't in nearly ten months, and there was a marked improvement in the texture of the hair and in its curling qualities.  The hair was curly again.  She noted no other change in symptoms.
    Response was rated excellent to single therapy for the oral contraceptive reaction; poor to combined therapy for the hypertension.  
Physiological Conclusions
    In this summary statement, I shall attempt to accomplish several ends, while affecting a comprehensible relationship between a number of physiological concepts which have been dealt with in this study.  We should deal more concretely with the theory of the manner in which castor oil packs work.  We should try to bring a relationship between the use of this mode of therapy as advised by Edgar Cayce, and the manner in which it became effective as a tool in the practice of medicine.
    Cayce seemingly approached the human body from within, looking at it intimately, seeing it function, even to the manner in which one nerve cell bridges the gap to its synaptic partner, and seeing the substance which allows this to happen. He was able to see the symptoms in a body, and what we might call a disease process coming into being from a single source, which may be Very distant and difficult to pin down as a cause, as far as we are concerned.
    In the eighty-one cases which have been presented, in which the castor oil packs were used as a principal method of treatment, we have approached an understanding of the body more from the outside, s6 to speak.  This outside approach is what derives from an acquired understanding using the findings of this physical world as guideposts.  It might be termed a conventional approach at least more conventional than found in the readings.
    If we can perhaps correlate these two groups of data, these two sources of information which have been presented here, it may well lead us into a better understanding of the human body as a whole, a goal truly worth striving for.
    In this summary process, we will only touch on certain physiological concepts contained in the readings and in the presented material, we will elaborate on others, and leave untouched still more, for some are less applicable to the theme of this paper than others.
    This study is being concluded with the hope that it will invite more research of a nature which will produce more acceptable evidence, answer more of those as-yet-unanswered questions, and do it in a manner that will bring closer together the understanding of the various natures of man, whose makeup at this point seems to be body, mind and spirit - three elements whose manifestation is as a unit and whose three parts are equally valid, important and whole.
    How does castor oil as a pack act in the human body? How does it bring into being a beneficial effect in body tissues?  Among other things, we observed that the packs, when used in the 81 cases, produced the following results: brought a peaceful sensation to the abdomen; affected beneficially the autonomic; induced changes in the lymphatics; relieved bodily stress; restored curly hair (!); apparently affected ganglia and plexuses; cleared up infections; aided pregnancy; benefited systems (e.g. genito-urinary); and affected beneficially areas of the body such as the pelvic organs.
    Cayce, in his readings, gives us ideas relative to the effects that castor oil has in the body when applied in such a manner, but the understanding is not easy to come by.  I would like to use two references first, then comment on them.  The first was an answer to a question about a psychic experience the woman had, and Cayce brings the castor oil into this discussion, relating it significantly, I think.  The second extract is from an earlier reading given the same woman who had been applying psychic information from Cayce for two years, and was highly desirous of becoming pregnant.
   This was an inter-between emotion, or as indicated - a partial psychic experience.  Consider that which takes place from the use of the oil pack and its influence upon the body, and something of the emotion experienced may be partially understood.
    Oil is that which constitutes, in a form, the nature of activity between the functionings of the organs of the system as related to activity.  Much in the same manner as oil would act upon an inanimate object - it acts as a limbering agent, allowing movement, motion, as may be had by the attempt to move a hinge, a wrench, a center, or that movement of an inanimate machinery motion.  This is the same effect had upon that which is now animated by spirit.  This movement, then, was the reflection of the abilities of the spirit of ANIMATE activity as controlled through the emotions of mind, or the activity of mind between spirit AND matter.  This was a vision, see?   (1523-14)
    Then, for the betterment of the general conditions as a whole, it would be well that much of an analysis be given; that the conditions which are existent be thoroughly understood from a psychological, pathological and physiological standpoint.
    These are not meant to be mere terms, but indicate rather the boundaries of the various changes which have taken place, and are taking place, in this body.
    In other words, then:
    The body, as an entity, is experiencing the result of the mental attitudes of the body through a given period.  Thus, psychological conditions have brought, do bring, their effect upon the general systems of the body.
    Hence, these are - as the name indicates - a creative, an activative force through the mental and the physical conditions of the body.
    Thus there should be, then, the realization that organs and their functionings have become aware, or conscious, of their activity, their function within the system.
    While as yet this is not a true or full conception, there is the awareness and the awakening of those influences within the system ... (1523-8)

    In the first selection, Cayce is saying that the castor oil when applied is active as that which allows the acting together or coordination between the functioning of organs in the system.  He indicates elsewhere that in his terminology any acting part of the body is an organ so the nervous system, muscles, etc., would all qualify as organs.  The oil assumes this relationship of being the means, perhaps, by which the organs function together only when the activity of the body as a whole is considered, it being directed by higher intelligence.  Thus, when one performs an action, oil allows the body to coordinate and act. (Oil, of course, is found within the body, and in a condition of health, the packs would not be needed anyway.) This extract seems to be saying that the oil acts upon the mind forces, or acts to allow the mind forces in the body to become active in producing better coordination between parts of the body and in bringing the spirit into closer communication with the body through these mind forces.  Somewhat like putting oil on a wheelbarrow's rusty axle.  The wheel will then work in better coordination with the barrow, but it takes the one directing to move it and let the two parts of the wheelbarrow perform better than before their individual functions.  The spirit, then, is enhanced in its motivation of the body, through the improved coordination brought about within the parts of that body by the castor oil in its application and action.
    The second extract, of course, shows that Cayce believes that consciousness, mind quality, awareness of a particular sort, exists within the very tissues, cells and organs of the body.  Thus be sees the castor oil as bringing to the body a closer working together and cooperation between the minds of these tissues or organs, as the body relates to the spirit which motivates it and gives it life.
    He does not say in what physical way the oil brings this about, but we can see how such a concept would explain the results which have been attained in practice.  Perhaps the autonomic nervous system provides the physical counterpart of the "activity" that Cayce mentions as occurring between the functionings of the organs, and oil, in its vibratory essence becomes the "nature" of that activity, bringing about a better coordination and a resultant bodily function that spells healing to the individual.  How can such a concept be simply explained?  Cayce involves us with the spirit of life, so we become even more than just body and mind, if he is correct.  In any event, this is a credible idea which does give understanding to results obtained, and perhaps gives us a better idea of what sort of conditions might be benefitted by such therapy.
    What part is played here, then, by the lymph, which has occasioned so much comment thus far?  This must be discussed in a summary form, as it relates particularly to the function of the autonomic nervous system, for these are closely related and important one to the other.
    Cayce sees the lacteals as that anatomical portion of the body which makes it possible for the body to take values from the food and to prepare these values in such a manner that they can be used to revitalize and bring back to life, so to speak, all the tissues the entire system - of this same body.  Moreover, he sees the Peyer's patches as creating a "globular" substance which is carried by the lymphocytes to the contact points between the "sympathetic" and the cerebrospinal nervous systems, which occur in the spinal cord or the sympathetic ganglia which lie anterior to tire spinal column.  This substance is necessary to form a contact between these two systems, and lack of proper contact brings sometimes physical disorders, sometimes mental derangement that varies from very mild to critically serious in its degree.  He infers that this lack of contact is a true lack of relationship (in one cell or millions of them) between the physical consciousness and the "soul and spirit forces" - what we may perhaps call the unconscious mind.  The implications of this, of course, are rather widespread and drastic, and leave much suggested which cannot be elaborated upon here.
    This same area just mentioned - the spinal cord relationship or connection to the sympathetic ganglia - is often the site of difficulty, which Cayce explains as a "lesion" which forms, due to injury or depletion of the system in certain foodstuffs or nutritional needs, or perhaps through stress situations in life.  The following selection demonstrates one manner in which the readings see this lesion coming into being, and indicates that it in turn causes trouble to the system.
    In the beginning, then, the cause, or seat of the trouble, we find that there was that in the system that produced a depletion to the physical resistance.  During this period there was an injury, or a subluxation, to the 9th and 10th dorsal vertebrae.  In the recuperation, in ease, the body formed a lesion to meet the needs of the condition.   (943-1)
    This philosophy of function in the human body, as becomes gradually apparent in study, would have us understand that these lesions which are formed then become the etiology of other troubles throughout the body, through imperfect transmission of impulses from the higher brain centers to the general areas of the internal workings of the body which are controlled autonomically by the ganglia which are thus affected.  We have seen this in numerous selections already quoted.  Then a function such as the liver performs is affected, and coordination between the liver and perhaps the kidney as a portion of the elimination of the body becomes a problem.  The patient may then develop a frequency or irritation without evidence of infection.  Through the disturbance to the liver, the digestion may be affected, and then, in quick order, the assimilation of needed food qualities is limited, the energies of the body suffer, and the nervous system is affected through the lack of substances given to the lymphatic system and subsequent inadequate lymphocytes and again the "globular" substance.  So one can see that, in the same manner that "man is not an island", the organs of the body do not stand alone.  They are units only in being parts of a larger unit.
    Even those many qualities of the world outside of oneself are sensed in such a manner that it becomes effective as an influence on the functioning of the body as a whole.  Sounds, colors, tastes, odors, the "feel" of something - all these are shunted through the autonomic nervous system in which manner they become as influences to the organs and tissues of the body as part of their individual consciousness, as these same sensations make their way to consciousness of the whole individual.  Even the lesions which occur in the body, as Cayce describes them, become associated with the energies of perception and sensing.  In this instance that follows, the lesion is not apparently associated with the spinal cord-ganglion relationship, but rather is one of those created in the abdominal cavity, which may be the type conceivably created by lymphatic disturbance and inadequate lymphatic drainage from a given site. (This does not seem to be quite clear, yet - at least in my studies of the readings.)
Q.  What happened, a few months ago during the headache, when something seemed to pop in my head, - since which time the attacks haven't seemed to be as severe?
A.  There is the coordination between the nerve systems, as we have indicated, at the area where the medulla oblongata enters the lower portion or the brain, see?  At that period when there was such a severe attack, there was the breaking or a lesion in the abdominal area.  This SOUNDED through the sympathetic nerve system, PRODUCING the condition in the head itself.  For, as was indicated, it appeared to go THROUGH AND OUT the head.   (1857-1)

    The emotions, responses within the individual to conditions outside the body in relationship to other people, self's evaluation of self, all bring about within the body a disturbance that often sees certain areas affected according to the emotions experienced.  But the balance within the body organs and body systems becomes disturbed, elimination is hindered, intake of food is associated with turmoil, and the beginnings are seen of body sickness through just the mechanisms which have been here only lightly touched upon.
    The circulatory system to various parts of the body as it is related to the autonomic is a site of disturbance frequently mentioned.  These relationships were not made clear in the study just completed, nor were those which bring together the efficacy of the castor oil packs in pelvic diseases and the sacral parasympathetic supply to these organs.
    Much in the way of physiologic function as seen by these readings which Cayce gave for over forty years becomes shifted into the first levels of understandability as serious study is given portions of the readings.  The rationale of castor oil pack therapy begins to become apparent.  And few, if any, contradictions show up in the rather startling number of words which flowed in such a strange manner from the lips of a dedicated man and the reaches of an unconscious mind.
    A rather humorous sidelight on the castor oil pack therapy is the story of a member of the Association for Research and Enlightenment whose wife was developing more and more cervical cysts at the opening of the uterus.  He wrote enthusiastically some time later of the wonderful results obtained in clearing up the cysts (as reported by their physician) when they used a circulating file (selections from the readings on a specific condition) and applied the recommendations found there in readings given for various people over the years.  The humor lay in the treatment of cervical cysts from the file on cystitis.  But it worked - the treatment was castor oil packs as principal therapy.
    We begin perhaps, to see that it is not so strange that a castor oil pack can be applied to the abdomen, and in one person a vaginitis is cleared up; in a second case a fecal impaction causing intestinal obstruction is relieved; in a third a threatened abortion is rendered into a normal pregnancy; in a fourth a cholecystitis is cured; and in a fifth, after ten long months, the hair is made to suds and curl once more.  Unless physiologic factors were at work that we do not wholly understand, these things could not be.
    Cayce, whose work on these readings ceased nearly twenty years ago with his death, would undoubtedly agree that this last extract would speak to these strange results from a strange therapy.
   For, what is the source of all healing for human ills?  From whence doth the body receive life, light or immortality?  That the body as an active force is the result of spirit and mind, these coordinating and cooperating, enables the entity to bring forth in the experience that which may be used - or the using of the abilities of whatever nature.  Each soul has within its power that to use which may make it at one with Creative Forces or God.  These are the sources from which life, light, and the activity of the body, mind and soul may manifest in whatever may be the active source or principle in the mind of the individual entity.  (3492-1)
    There are then, as given, those influences in the nature of man that may supply that needed.  For, man in his nature - physical, mental and spiritual - is a replica, is a part of whole universal reaction in materiality.
    Hence there are those elements which if applied in a material way, if there is the activity with same of the spirit and mind, may [)ring into the experience of each atom of the body force or cell itself the awareness of the Creative Force of God.  It may rise only as high as the ideal held by the body-mind.
    Hence there is the one way, the source.  For in Him is all life, all health, all mind, all knowledge and immortality to the soul-mind itself.   (3492-1)

    Those who are receptive in their nature will benefit most from the packs.  Why is this?  Because being receptive is being as the little child. He has faith without even knowing why, and so accepts all things as being the will and the graciousness of God acting in his life.  And the peace comes to him, throughout the whole of the earth - his earth.
    Healing may really be peace - a peace that comes to rest in the body, that is a reflection of the "peace that passeth understanding".  We see it come to the body much as peace is allowed to come to the earth: a nation here and a nation there.  When we find real peace in the earth, we may see a state of health having come to all bodies.
[Note: The preceding report was provided by William McGarey, M. D. and is excerpted from The A.R.E. Journal, March, 1967, Volume 2, No. 2, page 3, Copyright © 1967 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.]

Castor Oil Packs

Though we mainly know it as one of Edgar Cayce's most famous remedies, castor oil has a long history of traditional medical use dating back to ancient Egypt. Derived from the castor bean, the oil was traditionally used internally as a laxative. However, now it is primarily used externally due to its potential toxicity.
A castor oil pack is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. It is used to stimulate the liver, relieve pain, increase lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion.
Castor oil packs are a traditional holistic treatment for a range of conditions, such as: cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder), poor eliminations, epilepsy, various liver conditions such as cirrhosis and torpid liver, scleroderma, headaches, appendicitis, arthritis, incoordination between assimilations and eliminations, colitis, intestinal disorders such as stricture and colon impaction, incoordination between nervous systems, neuritis, and toxemia.
Castor oil packs are made by soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil and placing it on the skin. The flannel is covered with a sheet of plastic, and then a hot water bottle is placed over the plastic to heat the pack.
A castor oil pack can be placed on the following body regions:
The right side of the abdomen to stimulate the liver; inflamed and swollen joints, bursitis, and muscle strains; the abdomen to relieve constipation and other digestive disorders; the lower abdomen in cases of menstrual irregularities and uterine and ovarian cysts.
Safety precautions: Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or during menstrual flow.
* Three layers of undyed wool or cotton flannel large enough to cover the affected area
* Castor oil
* Plastic wrap cut 1-2" larger than the flannel (can be cut from a plastic bag)
* Hot water bottle
* Container with lid
* Old clothes and sheets. Castor oil will stain clothing and bedding.
Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping. Place the pack over the affected body part. Cover with plastic. Place the hot water bottle over the pack. Leave it on for 45-60 minutes. Rest while the pack is in place. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times.
It is generally recommended that a castor oil pack be used for 3 to 7 days in a week to treat a health condition or for detoxification.
Our readers offer information and opinions on Earth Clinic, not as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.

Edgar Cayce on Laxatives


    Edgar Cayce sometimes recommended laxatives to improve eliminations through the colon, particularly in cases involving constipation.  However, he often cautioned that the body could become dependent this artificial form of elimination and lose its natural ability to eliminate wastes.  To prevent dependency, Cayce typically would suggest that various forms of laxative be alternated.  Also, various other therapies were usually recommended in addition to the laxatives.  For example, diet (with lots of fruits and vegetables), hydrotherapy (especially colonic irrigations), and manual therapy (spinal manipulations and massage) were commonly prescribed for constipation.  Here are some common laxatives recommended in the readings:
  • Fletcher's Castoria
  • Eno Salts
  • Psyllium (Note: Psyllium may be purchased alone or combined with other ingredients in a Heritage Store product called Innerclean.)
  • Sulphur, rochelle salts, cream of tartar formula (Sulflax)
  • Yeast
    The case of 265-6 is an excellent example of alternating laxatives to treat severe constipation.  This seventy-year-old woman was told to alternate between four laxatives combined with colon hydrotherapy and the use of a vibrator.  Edgar Cayce's recommendation for her were to take:
  • One day a whole bottle (900 drops) of Castoria, in very small doses - half a teaspoonful every half hour.
  • The next day take a tablespoonful of Milk of Bismuth.
  • The next day take two tablespoonsful of Milk of Magnesia.
  • The next day take phenolphthalein, or Phenolax, as may be had in two tablets or wafers.
  • Then begin again with the Castoria and repeat the cycle at least three times.
    The excerpt which follows provides a rationale for each of the therapies recommended for this woman.
    The conditions in the present are more from the toxic forces that are produced in the system by poisons from non-eliminations, than from other causes.
    In the evenings also before retiring, the use of the electrically driven vibrator along the whole cerebro-spinal system will be found to be helpful; for this will enable all centers along the cerebro-spinal system to receive a greater impulse from their activity, enabling all organs to be stimulated without the excess of one's functioning so much under the strain of the tautness of another.  Especially would this be helpful, that those centers in the upper dorsal and cervical area receive stimulation; also across the lower portion of the body, or the lumbar area.
    The activities of the alimentary canal, and the effects that are had from pressures on bladder, pressures in the liver area - these need the effect of a stimuli to create for the system more lymph circulation, that the eliminations may be aided, and less tendency of over-stimulating the secretions in the stomach, thus emptying same of the lymph that is so needed oft in creating the necessary lactic foods for proper assimilation.
    As we would find, these - then - would be the most helpful under the existent conditions, but should be alternated in such manners as not to become non-effective or non-active, rotating in a manner that will be effective for the system:
    Occasionally, too, there should be the elimination or evacuation of the lower colon, with the use of the high enemas that will enliven the system in such a manner - by the use of proper antiseptics following such evacuations - that will remove the pressure on the pelvic organs, as well as relieving the breathing that is hindered by the dilation of the colon in the transverse and descending area - the transverse and descending, or as they turn in this portion of the colon area.  After the use of the water for evacuation, there should be made another solution wherein the antiseptics would be put.  The better for this, as we find, would be Glyco-Thymoline - a tablespoonful to each quart of water that is used for the last injections.
    To aid in overcoming the tendency of constipation, that is so harmful - and has been for long periods to the body, as to so affect the system, we would take:
    One day a whole bottle (900 drops) of Castoria, in very small doses - half a teaspoonful every half hour.
    The next day take a tablespoonful of Milk of Bismuth.
    The next day take two tablespoonsful of Milk of Magnesia.
    The next day take phenolphthalein, or Phenolax, as may be had in two tablets or wafers.
    Then the next day return again to the Castoria.  At least three rounds of these, followed consecutively day by day, should be taken, that the evacuations or eliminations in the colon may be effective.  Taken in these manners, and with the vibrations that may be given with the stimulation through the electrically driven vibrator, we will not disturb the activities of the organs as affected - the liver, the kidneys, and the bladder - the stomach, the respiratory system - to such an extent as to make other than a little weakness; but this - if kept in the proper way and manner - will bring about much bettered conditions for this body, Mrs. [265]…
    The properties combined in the Castoria will affect the kidneys, the liver, the whole hepatic circulation directly.  The active principle is the senna, but the other elements that are added when taken in small quantities - are assimilated to the circulation and will not irritate the functioning of the organs that are exercised, as a laxative.
    The properties in the Milk of Magnesia are to take away from the muco-membranes, or the lymph circulation through the circulation of the hepatics, any inflammation; yet tending to make for the using up of those portions that adhere to the walls of the intestines, so that there is the tendency at times for this to become obnoxious to the body, as it causes a strain especially on the duodenum to evacuate and cleanse same.  Hence the necessity of the occasional use of the enema, followed by the antiseptic cleansing.
    Then the phenolphthalein, or the activity from the use of the wafers, is to act as a sedimentary to the draining of those portions of the duodenum and the jejunum, that will relieve those pressures in the heart area - that causes the cough, or the respiratory reaction.
    Then, when this is repeated again, we will gradually CLEANSE the system - see?
    These do not become destructive forces, then, to the organs that are involved…
    The vibrations given in the electrically driven vibrator are to stimulate those centers (with this enlivening of the organs of the body, in the digestive and eliminating system) from the nerve plexus along the cerebro-spinal system, so that their activity produces nearer a normal impulse than is exercised by taking large quantities of cathartics - that will relieve the pressures for the moment, but not the causes.  These stimulations should be especially in the upper dorsal and cervical area, or 3rd and 4th dorsal and to the brachial plexus; then from the 3rd and 4th cervical to the upper portion - which will relieve all pressures sympathetically to the upper portion, or to the digestive portion.  The stimulations in the lumbar region will relieve those pressures to the eliminating portion, or to the hepatic circulation.

Edgar Cayce on Constipation


I.   Physiological Considerations
    Constipation - inadequate, difficult, or infrequent evacuation of the fecal content of the bowels - probably causes greater disturbance of function and more symptoms of dis-ease in the human being than any other single condition.
    Most commonly, constipation has its origin in an acidity created in the assimilating system of the body.  We call this acidity "stomach trouble." Implied in the readings - though not explicitly described - is the concept that stress, tension, arguments, disagreements, anger, and other negative manifestations of the adrenal gland bring the acidity into being in the stomach/duodenal area.
    The Peyer's patches provide for the body the alkaline forces necessary in the acid-base balance that must be maintained. (See Acidity-Alkalinity Circulating File.) With excess acid present in the stomach, lymphatic function decreases and creates an inactivity in the liver.  A relative lack of enzyme production with a subsequent decrease in proper assimilation follows.  This in turn cuts down markedly on the rebuilding forces available for producing normal eliminations.  Then some foods which are at times acceptable to the body become as poisons and the system becomes overloaded with "used forces" - those end products of metabolism and the substances produced by improper metabolism and intestinal wastes that begin to be reabsorbed through the lower intestinal walls.  After this occurs, a condition which might be described as an intestinal indigestion comes into being which causes a packing of fecal material in the large bowel.  The system, reabsorbing waste into the bloodstream, reinforces the beginning factors which brought the constipation into being.
    Certainly it must be recognized that constipation occurs as a result of various types of diseases, but the development as described above is probably the most common.  Associated with constipation nearly always and sometimes acting as a cause of constipation are varying pressures and subluxations of the cervical, dorsal, and lumbar segments.  Improper diet, such as an acid-reacting one, kept up as a regular practice, is also a major factor.  The consequences of constipation are consistently underrated, possibly because they are not understood.  When toxins are reabsorbed into the circulation, the liver progressively loses its ability to excrete as well as to secrete.  The kidneys usually respond to this relative liver shutdown by becoming overtaxed in their function of eliminating substances from the body.  Symptoms of dysuria appear, associated with inflammation of the kidney, bladder, and the tubes associated with the renal system.  The skin and lungs - two other organs of elimination - are called upon to exercise their functions more vigorously in order to keep the body in a good general balance.  Thus halitosis or various skin disturbances may occur.
    In case [550], the accumulation of toxins produced a general nervousness with bad dreams - an incoordination of the cerebrospinal and the autonomic nervous systems.  What caused all this?  "This same restlessness as was produced in the nerve system, which carries, as it were, its message of those conditions awry in the system to the brain.  This, then, produces restlessness, and the tendency for the body to have hallucinations or visions that would harm physically the body." (550-1) From the disturbance of the incoordination comes also the inability to rest well, a constant waking during the night, and a tiredness when rest should have brought about resuscitation.  These symptoms arise because the recuperative processes malfunction due to the toxins throughout the system.  The eyes might become inflamed, the hands become cold on occasion, and skin eruptions appear.  Headaches are a common symptom, nausea at times, and a heaviness in the feet.  Also a dryness of the mouth; sometimes a swelling of the feet; and the color and circulation are reported as "bad."
    In looking at the various types of incoordination produced, it becomes evident that disease syndromes can be built upon the simple condition that we know as constipation.  It becomes important, then, to regard the elimination system with a great deal of respect.
    There should be a warning to all bodies as to such conditions; for would the assimilations and the eliminations be kept nearer normal in the human family, the days might be extended to whatever period as was so desired; for the system is builded by the assimilations of that it takes within, and is able to bring resuscitation so long as the eliminations do not hinder.  (311-4)  
II.  Therapeutic Considerations
    Constipation that has progressed beyond a single episode must be given due respect when therapy is being considered.  A wide variety of treatments, certainly, is available.  However, for constipation that has progressed to the point where it becomes a problem for the individual, there seems to emerge a pattern of three basic therapies.
1. Diet: Unless a condition of alkalosis is present, the diet should be a highly alkaline-reacting one with many leafy green vegetables.  Starches and protein should not be combined, such as bread with beans or high protein vegetables, and white potatoes with bread.  Cereals and juice (citrus) combinations should be avoided. Important: The diet should be kept to consistently and for a long period of time.
2. Osteopathic treatments were advised for [926], who was to have three treatments a week for five weeks, then two a week for perhaps 10 weeks, then rest 10 days - then another series of six to eight treatments.  Sometimes a longer series would be needed, depending to a great extent on the chronicity of the constipation. (Relaxation or manipulation should be used at all times with the exception of one adjustment of specific nature every three to five treatments.)
3. Cleansing of the intestines includes colonics, which are very helpful and frequently necessary; enemas; various types of eliminants, such as Fletcher's Castoria, olive oil, Agarol, and cleansing diets.  These may all be necessary at one time or another to keep the bowels cleansed.  Castor oil packs may occasionally be needed or abdominal massage.  Massage with olive oil should follow the course of the stomach to the duodenum, past the Peyer's patches to the jejunum and ileum, and then across to the caecum, up over the ascending, transverse and descending colon, for as long as the body will absorb the olive oil.
    Most often treatment for constipation will be in conjunction with treatment for other conditions, so this must be kept in mind when the above suggestions are utilized.
An Elimination Program for a Torpid Liver
    After each meal for two or three days, take about a quarter teaspoonful of the Alcaroid.
    After the third day that this has been taken, leave it off, and take two Zilatone tablets at bedtime-on the day after the Alcaroid has been left off, you see; drinking plenty of water!
    Let this go then for two or three weeks, then do this again.
    But to keep the eliminations each day that there is not the evacuation through the alimentary canal, the high enemas - salt and soda enemas.  Preferably take these yourself, using a fountain syringe.  Not necessary that the water be hot.  Do not have the water warmer than the temperature of the body, but use this each day when there is not a natural evacuation from the alimentary canal.  (1269-1)
Constipation - Acute Infection
    In case [25), Cayce suggests that an eliminant be given that is of the lactic nature rather than of the acid nature.  In this case the teenage boy had tonsillitis which was causing pains in the joints and a toxic condition.
    Hence it would be necessary that, not too much excitement to the secreting organ but, sufficient and rather the lactic nature than of the acid; that is, these properties taken to produce elimination shall be Tactics and of the saline nature rather than of an acid nature.  That is, such as these would be well for the body to take regularly for some time after this was done:
    Plain phosphate of soda, half a teaspoonful in half a glass of water, and add five to six drops of oil, or syrup of sarsaparilla.   (25-2)
    This boy was advised to have his tonsils removed and to clean out the intestinal tract.
    The following extract helps us to understand the balance of mind and body that is needed, for emotions do have an effect upon our physical beings:
    Do not become overanxious - for, to be sure, the mental is the builder; and overanxiousness may bring about barriers to proper reactions throughout the system; whether as related to the circulatory forces or the assimilations or eliminations of the body.
    But these influences kept in a body-normal eliminations, near to normal assimilations - without accident - it, the body, reproduces itself in every phase of its experience.  The natural balance is an eighty percent alkaline to a twenty percent acid reaction.  This means reaction in the system, and these should be kept.
    Keep these physically, mentally, with a spiritual basis of constructiveness for the mental attitudes.  For grudges, animosities, hates, overanxieties are a part of the mental and become conditions reactory in the physical forces.   (816-8)
[Note: The preceding overview was written by William A. McGarey, M.D. and is excerpted from the Physician's Reference Notebook, Copyright © 1968 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.]